ECHL: Adirondack Thunder Clinch Kelly Cup Playoff Berth Despite Loss Vs Norfolk Admirals | 03/24/2024

Cody Conine/InsideTheRink

GLENS FALLS—The Adirondack Thunder have become the first team in the Eastern Conference to punch their ticket to the Kelly Cup Playoff, but it was in no way the prettiest way to clinch. It was a tough opening frame for the Thunder, as Danny Katic beat Vinnie Purpura five-hole at the 3:15 mark, and then 12 seconds later, it was Denis Smirnov who finished off a tic-tac-toe play to double the Admirals’ lead quickly. Adirondack needed an answer fast, and they would get it just 1:16 after the Smirnov goal, as Mac Welsher would be the last one to get his stick on the puck in a scrum in front for his first professional goal and would end the night with a goal and an assist. Stephan Timofeyev would pick up his own rebound to regain the Admiral two-goal lead. Kamerin Nault and Sean Montgomery scored 26 seconds apart from each other late in the period, giving the Admirals a four-goal lead and ending Purpura’s night as he would give up five goals on just ten shots. Six goals would be scored in the opening frame, but more surprisingly, the period would end with no penalties being called.

“We’ve been clinched since Christmas”

Pete MacArthur on the Thunder clinching a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs

The first half of the second didn’t provide much action, but in the second half, the physicality that had been there all weekend once again reared its ugly head. Ryan Wheeler and Mark Liwiski exchanged pleasantries as they each picked up minors for roughing and misconduct, and the first 22 minutes of penalties were on the board. Denis Smirnov picked up his second of the game on a nice backhander at the 13:34 mark to make it 6-1 Norfolk. Less than a minute into the third period, it would be Thomas Caron and Mike Van Unen who would get tied up as Van Unen would pick up the extra two. Yushiro Hirano would start what would become an ugly 13 minutes of hockey as he would cross-check Timofeyev twice but would only be called for interference. Just 46 seconds later, Shane Harper delivered a cross-check to Timofeyev, and the chaos would continue as Harper got a match penalty for cross-checking and a minor for cross-checking. Tristan Ashbrook would add a PP goal for the Thunder in the final five minutes, but it wouldn’t be enough as Adirondack would drop this one by a score of 6-2.

“I think the first night was physical, I don’t think we bit in as much after whistles as they did and I think controlled their pace and gave them energy and in the second game we controlled a ton of it, every guy was sticking up for each other, and then it just came to hockey and we got the better of them”

Head Coach Jeff Car on the physicality of the three-game set

After taking two of three from the Thunder this weekend, Norfolk is now six points back of Adirondack for the top spot in the North Division after a very physical series that saw 196 penalty minutes over the course of the three games. Another big thing for the Admirals is they got two really solid performances from Yaniv Perets, as he made 26 saves on Saturday and 29 saves on Sunday, taking the win in both games.

“Yani’s really been steady and solid, he’s been very active but in a calm little box like Joe always talks about staying tight to his angels, trusting his reactionary time and instincts and he’s done that the last two games”

Head Coach Jeff Carr on the performance of Yaniv Perets

Armand Klisivitch

Inside The Rink ECHL Manager | Senior Editor Credentialed Reporter for the Adirondack Thunder & Worcester Railers.

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